Controlled Airspace Briefing

March 4, 2014

As I continue my journey through the wonderful world of flight navigation, the time has come to enter controlled airspace. Namely, Gold Coast controlled airspace.

In preparation for my next navigation exercise (nav), a briefing was in order to ensure I had the knowledge required to enter and leave airspace without incident. As Robert advised, there are really only three reasons for why I would be within controlled or restricted airspace. I’ll either be entering, departing or transiting.

As a start, we looked at the track that we will be flying on the next nav and the airspace that we will encounter. The flight will be; Archerfield – Stanthorpe – Grafton – Lismore – Gold Coast – Archerfield.

Firstly, we will be facing the military restricted airspace surrounding Amberley. There are a few options when looking at entering this airspace and it’s very dependent on activity within the restricted area and what the Amberley control advise us to do. Robert went through scenarios and the plan of attack for each. We wrote down the radio calls I need to make and when to make them and the possible responses that I could receive from ATC. Whilst avoiding the area altogether is an option, I really need to learn to deal with situations like this because as a Commercial Pilot, if you’re scared of controlled/restricted airspace, you won’t get far.

Next we looked at the Gold Coast airspace. This is probably the most complex I will face at this stage of my training. As they receive heavy traffic, it’s imperative that I enter and depart without causing headaches for the Air Traffic Control (ATC). Of what I have heard, the Gold Coast ATC aren’t as understanding as Archerfield when it comes to students learning to fly. In such busy airspace, if you can’t keep up, you probably shouldn’t be there.

At the moment, the radio calls seem quite complex and daunting. Much of it is very similar to what I hear on my flight simulator when flying a B737. To aid in dealing with the complexity of what is being said, Robert discussed the use of a checklist. We can write up a list of what we expect ATC to say based on the conditions, etc. and then make small adjustments depending on what they actually say. That way I already have somewhat of a script ready to go.

Robert also discussed diversions with me, mainly how to plan and execute as I think that will be part of my flight test for the Private Pilot Licence. We developed a check list for me to learn which basically sets out the steps required to plan a diversion on the fly.

I must admit, the thought of flying in and taxiing with heavy aircraft like B737’s and A320’s does make me somewhat nervous, though it’s also quite an exciting part of my training and I can’t wait to experience it.

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